College senior watches meltdown of job, school during quarantine

I became aware of the COVID-19 virus when the news stations started talking about it in China. I knew the situation was going to be serious when I learned it was killing large populations in the East. Its quick spread was alarming, but I continued as normal. I got up at 5 a.m. and left home at 6. I got to work at 7 o’clock and stayed until it was time to head to my classes. After that, I’d drive for about an hour and a half to pick up my sister from school and head home. 

Then this past March 12, I was supposed to direct a show for my studio production class. It was going to be a magic show with one of my classmates as the host. I spent weeks preparing my script, creating graphics, thinking about how the set was going to look. I bought a purple velvet cloak, a top hat, and materials for the trick.

Earlier that week, Brazilian President Jair Bolosnaro and his team had visited Miami-Dade College’s medical campus, where I work as a part-time clerk. It was closed, so not many employees were around at the time. Then one of my coworkers told me that someone from the Brazilian President’s team was infected with the virus. Soon, we were evacuated. Alarms went off telling everyone to go home. It seemed so crazy. It was quite scary but everyone remained calm.

I called my parents and texted a few people to let them know the situation and headed home. On my way, I stopped to get a few more supplies for my show the next day. Unfortunately, the magic show never happened. The FIU campus was shut down that same day. I was sad, but nothing could be done. My job ended, my school closed and my church stopped having services.

Now I’m focusing on helping my church get services live-streamed. This has been in the works for a while but since the coronavirus has happened we’ve sped up our process. I think of it as an opportunity. I will direct a show, but not the one I expected. Since the start of the stay-at-home order, the church has been closed. On Saturdays, we set up to film the service. There’s the pastor, a praise team that consists of three members, a guitarist, a security guard to make sure no one comes in and two media team members — including myself. 

We’ve been using my cellphone to live-stream on Facebook Live from about 11 a.m. to about 12:30 p.m. This has been going on for about a month now, and we’ve had some issues. If we filmed outside, the live stream connection was bad. Inside was better, but the quality of the live stream wasn’t the best. We’re still trying to figure it out.

We’ve ordered a camcorder, tripod, and other equipment that has started to come in so we can have a smoother live-streaming experience. But it is no substitute for the usual service of 2.5 hours, lunch and fellowship. We used to just hang out together and talk, but now it’s so different. I can’t wait for this to be over.

Dabney Richards is a U.S. Virgin Islands native who grew up in South Florida. She is a senior at FIU studying Broadcast Media and English who loves photography, dance and media production.